Charley Nelson Defined by the “One Drop” Rule

Blog post by Randi Richardson

registrationOn June 5, 1917, Charley Nelson, age 22, a resident of Bloomington, Indiana, registered for the draft of World War I.  Because Charley’s ability to read and write was limited, as illustrated by his poorly written signature at the bottom of the card, someone else filled in the information for him.  In what appears to be in a different hand than the rest of the information, it is noted that Charley is of “African descent.”

On Monday, April 22, 1918, when the newspaper announced that Charles Nelson had been drafted and his name was among the 47 “Monroe County boys” to head to Camp Taylor on Saturday, April 27, Charley’s mother, Ella Nelson, took immediate action.  The very next day she went before the conscription board and demanded that Charley be sent to war with white soldiers rather than colored troops.

The board, so it claimed, based their decision about Charley’s placement with the colored troops on information provided at the time the registration card was completed.   More specifically, the answer to the question of Charley’s race.

Ella disagreed with how Charley’s race was recorded.  Never mind who provided the information.  She hired Attorney Frank Regester to “get up the necessary papers” to prove that Charley, a son by her husband, Tom Nelson, was only 1/16 negro by blood, that his great grandfather was “a pure, white man” and the great grandmother “one half negro.”  This made the grandfather “one-quarter negro” and he married a “pure, white woman” which makes Tom Nelson, the boy’s father, “one-eighth negro, and he married a pure, white woman which made Charley 1/16 colored and 15/16 white.”

Regester was asked to show the board “that under present Indiana law, a man of 1/8 negro blood is allowed to enter into a marriage contract with a white woman, and so is entitled to be regarded as white” and eligible to go to war with white soldiers.  Charley, with only 1/16 negro blood, certainly met that requirement.

Although the outcome of the action taken by Ella is unknown, there is no doubt that Charley, officially known as Charles Gordon Nelson, did his part during World War I.  In the 1930 federal census, Charley, a “negro,” is identified as a veteran of WWI.  He was enumerated with his white mother, Ella, in Richland Township, Monroe County, Indiana.  And on his flat, granite marble tombstone of military issue at Rose Hill Cemetery, it is noted that he died on December 15, 1954, and served as a “Pvt 2 Prov Sch Det FACOTS,” the latter an acronym for Field Artillery Center Officer Training School located at Camp Zachary Taylor in Kentucky.

A close review of various vital records and military pension applications indicate Charley’s line of descent as follows:  his parents were Ephraim Thomas “Tom” Nelson and Ella (Fender) Nelson.  Tom is consistently identified as black or mulatto and Ella as white.  The couple married in Hamilton County, Ohio, 1893, though there is no evidence they ever lived in Ohio.

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An image from the 1900 Monroe County (IN) census record showing Charley Nelson with his racially-mixed family.

Tom’s paternal grandfather, Ephraim T. Nelson, is consistently identified as black or mulatto.  In 1859 he married Mary Ann Fender, white, in Sandwich, Canada, along the Canadian-US border of the Detroit River having gone there from Indiana for about ten days and claiming to be residents of Detroit, Michigan.  Ephraim was drafted to serve in the Civil War; he died of the measles in Tennessee in 1865 less than a year after he was mustered in.

Tom’s paternal great grandparents were Jesse and Lucinda “Lucy” Nelson.  Jesse, born August 16, 1790, in South Carolina, was white and Lucy was identified in census records as black.  However, if Ella was correct in what she told the conscription board, Lucy was only half black.  Perhaps she was one of the 26 slaves previously owned by Jesse, the only white person in his household noted in the 1840 census record in Fairfield District, South Carolina.  Their place of marriage is not known.

Tom’s paternal great great grandfather, James Nelson, was a Revolutionary War veteran. His pension application, and that of his widow, Margaret (Turner) Nelson, is available online at Fold3.  James died on May 28, 1832, and Margaret in 1845.  Afterward the pension was assigned to the two surviving sons, Jesse and his brother, Daniel.

If one looks back at Charley’s paternal ancestors, Charley was consistently defined as either black or mulatto due to the “one-drop” rule meaning that a single drop of black blood, his great grandmother Lucy’s, makes a person black.  Because Lucy was either black or biracial, all those who descended from her were identified as black.  Undoubtedly, however, the color of their skin became lighter and lighter as one after the other of his ancestors married whites.  Many of Lucy’s descendants moved away from Indiana in order to avoid Indiana’s restrictive laws related to blacks and interracial marriage.  Thankfully, throughout the U. S. today those laws either no longer exist or have been much relaxed,  but one must, however, ask if the changes are great and far-reaching enough.

SOURCES:  Bloomington (IN) Evening World, April 22, 1918, p. 1.

Bloomington (IN) Daily Telephone, April 24, 1918, p. 1.

Military pension record for James Nelson, Revolutionary War soldier

Military pension record for Ephraim T. Nelson, veteran of the Civil War

Military pension record for Mary A. Nelson, widow of Ephraim T. Nelson

Dr. John Herschel Lemon Reminisces about Early Life in Bloomington

Blog post by Randi Richardson

The item noted below is based on a column in an unidentified Bloomington newspaper called “Looking Back.” It was found in a scrapbook compiled by a man named Fred Lockwood.  The scrapbook is held by the Monroe County History Center, Bloomington, Indiana.  It also includes information and a photograph from Dr. Lemon’s obituary in the Indianapolis (IN) Star, July 11, 1935, p. 5.

John Herschel Lemon, the son of John A. M. and Cynthia Lemon, grew up near lemonHarrodsburg.  In 1856, when he was about twelve years of age, the family moved to Bloomington where he and his brothers attended the university.  Although the Civil War interrupted John’s academic career, he eventually became a physician and settled in New Albany, Floyd County, Indiana.  In 1929, he wrote John Cravens, secretary of Indiana University, a letter in which he reminisced about his early days in Bloomington.

…We moved…to the northwest corner of the campus in 1856.  South across the street lived Sheriff Pleasant Lorenzo Dow Mitchell, the son-in-law of old Col. Ketchum.  Dr. Eckley Hunter married a daughter, and I think Bruce Shield another.  The Mitchell family was large.

Along west side of town…lived Jim Howe.  His son went into regular military.  I think the next was even then a much worse, two-story brick where Joseph A. Wright* had lived perhaps in his janitor student days.  Emmanuel Marquis, who had served in the U. S. Consulate in some German town, wrapped up a brick that Joe Wright had hodded to the top wall of the Bloomington courthouse.  The brick was presented with some ceremony at Berlin where Wright was minister.  Prof. Marquis said the intention was to show his home folks how a man of the humble laboring class could in America go up to a high place…

North of the old Gov. Wright brick was the large white frame house of Mr. Batterton, the tinner.  He had five daughters.  Jake Wolfe married one and Madison Evans married another daughter.  The Battertons belonged to the Christian Church, and Evans was preparing to become a preacher in that denomination.  He often came to our house to see my older brothers, Alexander Downey and Alfred Homer Lemon.  The death of Evans in 1865 or 1866 was a sad time in our neighborhood.

Next north of the Batterton house lived Mr. McFetteridge (consider McPhetridge and McFetridge as spelling variants) for many years clerk of the court.  After a short distance over low ground was the depot on east side of the railroad.  I think my father owned a lot or two about where the Orchard House is, or was.

We owned a five-acre wood and pasture lot one-half mile or so west of town, south of the Acuff place.  Dr. James F. Dodds’ equal size lot was joining on the south.  Our lot had old, wide-spreading beech trees.  It was a grass slope divided by a small, rippling stream.  Students came often here to declaim or rehearse, especially in commencement time…

I belonged to a militia company.  Several local students belonged, drilling in the clean shade of Dunn’s woods on Saturday, once staying up the night when there was alarm of being attacked by Greene County Butternuts or Copperheads.  The drum beatings, the enlistings and speakings were in the courthouse and public square.  In the college campus, it was quiet as a country Sabbath when a professor was told a student had joined the army, his manner was serious and sad.  Professor Wylie’s son was dead.  Sammy Dodds, the two friends, was dead in distant, bleak Missouri.

Many other young flowers of hope and all faithfulness were dead.  What could these venerable scholar-saints do but enter into a chamber and plead that the time be shortened.

There was always a great crowd at the depot when the afternoon train came with the Cincinnati Gazette.  Oscar McCullough had a news stand opposite the courthouse.  Usually someone read the news aloud.  The others—Wylie, Ballantine, Kirkwood—gathered close to listen, their faces grave as if they heard a voice from land and sea that time was to be no more.  I heard little or no conversation among them.  Kirkwood was slightly deaf.  He had a cane, a worn silk hat and long, black cloak.  After listening to the news they filed away.  They were not good mixers or conversationalists but always polite and kindly mannered and pleased with friendly greeting.  Neither of these three, very great and truly good men, seemed able to contribute to ordinary conversation.

I do not remember Professor Woodburn at the news stand loafing place.  I think he was always busy in the afternoon hammering away with the sometimes large Prep classes.  Truly, the old faculty of the university were a fine, old set of mahogany…

A few months ago I wrote a sketch of Company A, 54th Regiment of Indiana, three month’s men—Captain Daniel Shader [sic] and Lt. William J. Allen.  The company was a fine, made-up group of Bloomington and Monroe County men—some from college.  The names of all are in the reports of [the] Adj. Gen’s office at Indianapolis.  My name appears there as John H. Seamon instead of John H. Lemon.

I have never seen any reference to the service of Co. A, 54th Indiana.  We must nearly all be dead by now.  I was seventeen and one-half years of age in the summer of May 1862…The operations of Co. A, 54th Indiana were for a while as guards over five or six thousand rebel prisoners at Camp Morton and afterwards served in west Kentucky before the slaves were emancipated and shows the attitude of Kentuckians on state rights and against invasion.

Asbury Cravens and his brother were good friends, and their father, General Cravens, and wife, came to see us in Bloomington and to see Richard D. Owen who had a room and board[ed] at my mother’s house when, after my father’s death in 1863, she moved and built a house next to Dr. James F. Dodds, north of his large brick…

Very Respectfully,

John Herschel Lemon, President

Floyd County, Indiana Historical Society

I will mention that in class of 1854, my brother’s name is William Harrison Lemon.  The “Herschel” is in my name.  Also Alexander Dowling should be “Downey” after my mother’s brother-in-law, a preacher about 1824.  South a few miles of Bloomington is [the] Ezra Pering or old Tom Carter neighborhood.

Six years after Dr. Lemon’s letter to John Cravens was published in a Bloomington newspaper, he died in New Albany on July 11, 1935.  His obit was published the same day in the Indianapolis Star (see p. 5).  At the time of his death he was 90 years of age and was believed to hold the record for the longest continued practice of medicine in Indiana.  He also was the father of the Floyd County Medical Society.

*Joseph Albert Wright (1810–1867) was Indiana’s tenth governor.  He served in that capacity from 1849 to 1857 and later became a U. S. Senator.  His father was a brick manufacturer in Pennsylvania who settled with his family in Bloomington about 1819 or 1820.  After the death of his father, 14-year-old Joseph worked his way through Indiana Seminary, later Indiana University, as a janitor, bellringer and occasional bricklayer.

Monroe County History Center Journeys to a Stop on the Underground Railroad

Blog post by Randi Richardson

coffin.jpg
An interesting, life-size sculpture at the Interpretive Center.

On a chilly Wednesday, November 14, enthusiastic travelers boarded a bus at 9 AM in front of the Monroe County History Center (MCHC) for an all-inclusive, day trip to Fountain City to visit several structures associated with Indiana’s Underground Railroad.  One of those structures was the Levi Coffin House Interpretive Center featured in the Smithsonian Magazine as one of twelve new museums around the world to visit in 2016.

Our first stop was for lunch at the Old Richmond Inn just a few miles south of Fountain City.  Our group was seated in a private dining room where steaming silver trays of food and a carving station awaited us in great abundance.  The food was every bit as delicious as it looked and smelled which prompted a fair number of us to anticipate an equally great dessert.  Alas there was none.

Our next stop was the Interpretive Center, a 3-story facility that opened in December 2016 with a number of interactive exhibits, a large gift shop that offered for sale abridged versions of Levi Coffin’s historic autobiography,  and an education room where we saw two short videos related to the underground railroad.  One of the videos featured a woman whose slave ancestor wore the wooden, Dutch-like shoes on display in the upper level of the Center.  On the sole of one of uncomfortable-looking shoes was a large, worn hole.  Where had those shoes traveled and what hardships had they known on their path to freedom? I wondered.

Thoughtfully, the Interpretative Center was located just across the street from the Coffin house.  Coffin, a Quaker merchant, had the house built for his family in 1839.  Although he owned the property until 1860, he left Fountain City, then called Newport, in 1847 and never again lived there.

During the course of Coffin’s residency in Fountain City, it is said that he aided 2,000 fugitive slaves in their escape to freedom.  On the uppermost floor of the three-story, brick home, accessed by narrow stairways, were places where the fugitives could be hidden in the eaves.  Fortunately, however, and due in large part to Levi’s legal savvy, the home was never searched.  After Levi’s relocation in Cincinnati, he continued to aid slaves and is believed to have assisted a grand total of 3,300 by his own estimate.  For this reason he is often recognized as the president of the Underground Railroad.

coffin2
The Levi Coffin House was identified as an historic landmark in 1966.  Restoration, largely done with the help of the community, was completed in 1970.

The U. S. Department of the Interior placed the house on the National Registry of Historic Landmarks in 19666.  Restoration of the home began in 1967 and was completed in 1970.  Long-time owners of the home, who were aware of its history, kept it in good repair and preserved some of the home’s furnishings.   Today visitors to the home can see most of the original fireplaces, floors, doors and glass in the windows.  The furnishings all predate 1847 and are typical of the time period and those of a Quaker family.

coffin3
This lovely piece of textile art in the hallway of the Coffin home is one of its few contemporary furnishings.

Our last stop, a few blocks away via our warm bus, was a restored Friends Meetinghouse established in 1837.  It was here that Levi and his wife, Catherine, attended the Indiana Yearly Meeting of Anti-Slavery Friends along with other like-minded Quakers.  Details of the church are available in an online video and at Facebook as noted below.

If you missed this interesting trip, you may want to gather your family and visit these historic properties on you own.  And if you’d like to receive news of future trips, send an email to Andrea Hadsell, the MCHC educator, at education@monroehistory.org.    The MCHC would love to welcome you aboard on their next journey through history.  Membership is not required.

 

For more information check out these online resources:

Restored Friends Meeting House–https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJ5Zgqs0E4s&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1COdbUEBZJ_yj4GGAZpMYCw2DxSvAn5k6r-yrEoB-NGQRwJMNsmjTAkH0 or https://www.facebook.com/lccoffin.qwc/.

Levi Coffin State Historic Site–https://www.indianamuseum.org/levi-and-catharine-coffin-state-historic-site.

 

Shorty Owen Feared No One

Blog Post by Randi Richardson

shorty
Several Bloomington policemen standing at attention in front of the Monroe County jail c. 1913.  From the archives of the Monroe County History Center.

George McQueen “Shorty” Owen (variously spelled Owens) was a tubby individual with a cold eye who feared nothing that walked on two legs.  He had several siblings including a sister, Lizzie, who had that same cold eye.  She was a teacher in the local schools for a number of years and had no trouble controlling the boys in her charge.

Shorty, a native of Indiana, was born about 1855 to William Dunn and Sarah Owen.  For many years he was one of the Showers factory boys but finally left his bench at the factory to go into politics and first ran for town marshal about 1887.

Back in those days, Saturdays was the weekly fighting holiday—a political rally or national holiday was a sort of field meet for fights.  Saturdays was Marshal Owen’s busy days.  A cry of “Fight, fight” would bring Shorty at a swift pace and within a few minutes he could be seen going down an alley to the jail with a struggling individual.  But it wasn’t often he had to use a club to get a man to jail.  He never used a “billy” unless the unlucky man was sober enough to put up a real right.

The fights were mere pastime for Shorty, a cop who had a policy of never arresting a drinking man if the man would go home.  Also, every Saturday Shorty conducted various farmers to their wagons and started them home.  He was a sort of majordomo of the week and drinking festivities.

There were enough saloons in Bloomington to accommodate all the local thirsty and all the thirsty visitors as well.  With liquor in them, the town men fought because of differences and the country boys fought for pure pleasure.

There were several country families that celebrated each visit to Bloomington with a glorious fight.  The fight always started in a saloon or in front of one, then it continued up an alley to the hitchrack and around the square or to a side street where the family team and wagon was waiting.  Arrived at the wagon, the fighting family made a valiant retreat out of town, well satisfied with the usual pleasure which a trip to town offered them.  There were two or three families of four or five brothers who never finished their Saturday in town without a fight.  It must have been against the generally accepted rules to use a gun for few of those fights resulted seriously.  Even the use of a pocket knife was not good form.

Once in a while a bad individual would come to town, announce that he was bad and that he was going to perform in a bad, bad way.  When Shorty arrived, he would walk up and take the gun away from the bad man then take him to jail or run him out of town.  Shorty was one of the most fearless individuals who ever walked the streets of Bloomington.

As the years passed, Shorty began to have more than a local name; his name was used by mothers in compelling the obedience of bad little boys.  In fact, so great was the fear of Shorty that bad little boys ran and hid when a rumor passed up the street that he was coming.  In spite of the bad name which the mamas of the village gave him to their children, Shorty was kind to all the kids.

After serving as town marshal for twelve years, Shorty finally fell a victim to politics and was defeated by Ed Johns.  He lived only about a year after leaving office, much of that time in failing health.  In late October 1900, he went to Nashville, Indiana, to take advantage of the mineral baths.  Upon his return home in early November, feeling no better or worse than usual, he sat down to breakfast one morning at the home he shared with his sister, Lizzie.  His head suddenly dropped forward and the dying man breathed his last.

At the time of his death Shorty was 43 years of age, lived with Lizzie at 504 N. Lincoln Street in Bloomington where the funeral was held, and never married.  Lizzie filled out the information for his death record.  No place of burial was noted.  In addition to Lizzie, he was survived by two brothers, Charles of Waynetown and William Dale Owen who served as Secretary of the State of Indiana from 1885 to 1891.

Sources:

  • George M. Owen Death Record, Ancestry.
  • An undated and unsourced item written by Blaine W. Bradfute found among newspaper clippings in a scrapbook compiled by Fred Lockwood at the Monroe County History Center.
  • George M. Owen obit, Bloomington Evening World, November 5, 1900, p. 1.

 

 

How Samuel Orchard Helped Put Bloomington on the Map

Blog post by Randi Richardson

Several of the events that helped put Bloomington and Monroe County on the map at an early day were related to efforts put forth by Samuel M. and John Orchard, brothers and natives of Bourbon County, Kentucky.

orchard
This image of the Goddess of Liberty from the photo collection of the Library of Congress was created between 1860 to 1865.  The image of the Goddess used by the Orchard brothers to advertise the inn is not known.

The two men came north to Indiana with their parents, Isaac and Margery (Mitchell) Orchard, about 1819 and the family settled in Washington County.  In 1822 Samuel and John, newly married to Jane McPheeters, formed a partnership to go into the wool carding business.  Isaac commissioned Samuel Pyle, a machine maker in Paris, Kentucky, to make up a full set of wool carding machines for the brothers.

Because the two young men had as yet no idea where to establish their new business, they started out in the fall of 1822 to view the country.  They didn’t go far.  Their first stop was Bloomington in Monroe County which they thought to be a “rich, new country” and the settlers, though few, were “social and friendly.”  Satisfied that the area might work well for them, they purchased a lot with a log house on it.  Nearly three decades later, that lot would be where the Orchard House was erected.

The next task of the brothers was to get the machinery from Paris, Kentucky to Bloomington.  A five-horse team rigged with twelve horses started out in the Spring of 1823.  After five weeks and a lengthy journey through mud and water, they arrived at their destination.  Upon their arrival in Bloomington, the machinery was put to use as soon as possible and ran successfully until 1836.

In 1826 the need for a mill to take in flax seed became apparent.  Nearly every farmer in Monroe County, whether large or small, grew flax in order to furnish their wives with the material to weave linen for the household.  Because there was no place in Bloomington to mill the flax, wagon loads of the raw material were shipped to Louisville for milling.  Seizing upon the opportunity, Samuel and John opened a flax seed mill to accommodate local farmers.  It ran for seven or eight years and was sold along with the wool carding business in 1836.

Seeing how responsive the two brothers were to the needs of the community, they were solicited by their fellow citizens about 1828 to “open a house for the entertainment of travelers.”  John was of a mind to do it and called upon Austin Seward, a fine mechanic, to paint him a sign for the Temperance Inn with a picture of the Goddess of Liberty.  Once completed, it was attached to a post set into the ground where it stayed until time wore it away.  The Inn, located on South College, was the first hostelry in the history of the county’s highways that did not have a bar or serve liquor to its guests.

About the same time the flax seed mill and wool carding businesses were in sold in 1836, the U. S. Post Office department offered a contract for mail service from Indianapolis to Leavenworth on the Ohio River.  No one seemed eager to accept the contract because the compensation was small, the work hard and sometimes dangerous.  However, after putting their heads together, Samuel and John decided there might be a way to combine the mail service with some type of public conveyance–as of yet, there was no such thing in Monroe County or even nearby.  They were encouraged to make a commitment by a large number of Monroe County “subscribers” who promised to patronize the line when started.

Reluctantly they began buying horses and coaches.  They went to Indianapolis and bought two six-passenger coaches especially built for service and durability.  A trustee of Indiana College, realizing the benefit of transportation to and from the school, helped by furnishing teams to run from Paoli to Leavenworth.  And from the time the brothers opened for business they were well patronized.

Four to six large, strong horses pulled each stagecoach.  It was necessary to change them at intervals of about twelve miles when they became fatigued.  Each stage made one round trip a week stopping at towns along the route to pick up and deliver mail. In the spring, the roads were often impassable because streams were swollen beyond their banks and mud was sometimes axle deep.

Samuel Orchard seemed to be the leader of this and every business enterprise operated by the brothers.  In 1837 he began butchering livestock for the trade and continued in this enterprise successfully along with his many other projects for about 12 years.

orchard2
This painting of S. M. Orchard once hung in the Coronation Room at the IU Union building.  A photocopy is the in Orchard family file at the Monroe County History Center.

 

In 1850 he also established the Orchard House on the property that eventually faced the Monon station.  This was just before the building of the New Albany Railroad, and the brothers gave liberally in subscription for stock in the new railroad enterprise which was to mean so much for the city’s progress in later years.  They even deeded land to the railroad for a small consideration.  The railroad evidently appreciated the efforts made on their behalf because for many years the passenger trains routinely stopped in Bloomington long enough for passengers to take their meals at the Orchard House where tables were piled high with produce from Samuel’s 60-acre farm.

In 1850 and 1860, enumerators noted both John and Samuel Orchard on the same page as head of adjacent households.  Both were noted as landlords and both owned an equal amount of real estate.  The brothers, however, had dissolved their partnership in 1855 with the jointly owned property amicably divided between them.

Samuel retained ownership of the Orchard House.  In 1860, there were six permanent residents living at the Orchard House along with four members of family.

By the 1870’s both men were getting up in years.  John’s wife died in 1865 and was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery.  John joined her there in the spring of 1872.  Samuel then began operating the Orchard House and its subsidiaries with the help of his sons.  However, 78-year-old Samuel was still functioning as the hotel keeper when he was visited by the census enumerator in 1880.  Two of his sons, James and Isaac S., were members of the same household.

In early November 1888, the Orchard House was one of only a few hotels in Bloomington and certainly the largest.  Before the month was out, it would exist no more.  At 2 AM on Tuesday, November 6, an alarm of fire was sounded.  People hurried from their beds to find the Orchard Block, which by then extended from College Avenue to Railroad Street from east to west and from 5th Street to an alley running north and south, to be on fire.

orchard3
The Orchard House as noted on the 1887 Sanborn Fire Map.  Bounded on the north and south by Fifth and Fourth streets and on the east and west by College Avenue and Railroad (now Morton) Street.

The wind blew hard, fanning the flames and rapidly spreading destruction.  Many of the building were frame and in less time than it takes to tell it, the whole mass of building, frame and brick, seemed to be on fire.  In just a few minutes, almost the entire contents of the Orchard House, accumulated through years of business and labor, were swept away.  Samuel Orchard, then 86 years old, was able to save nothing—neither clothing nor bedding.

According to newspapers, it was the most disastrous fire that had ever occurred to date for the simple reason that the destruction was almost total and the insurance on the various businesses comparatively nothing.  There was not one dollar of insurance on the Orchard House.

Samuel Orchard at his advanced age was done.  Martha McPheeters, his wife of many years, was gone, having died in 1885.  That entrepreneurial spirit that so characterized his youth no longer existed.    So it was that one of the best known hotel men of the state, proprietor of the first regular hotel in Bloomington, one that bore his name, decided to spend what remaining years he had left comparatively idle.

When he died on December 3, 1891, at the home of his son and namesake, Sam Orchard, he was 89 years of age.  According to his obituary he was respected and revered by all who knew him.  He was a faithful member of the Walnut Street Presbyterian Church, and from that place his funeral was held.  Afterward his remains were placed at the side of his beloved wife in Rose Hill Cemetery.


Much of the information for this blog came from an “Old Bloomington” column published in the Bloomington World Telephone on December 1, 1944, titled “A Short Account of the Orchard Family Written by Samuel M. Orchard in 1888.”  A copy of the item is also available on Reel 14, Local History Microfilm Collection, Monroe County Public Library and a transcript of the article was posted by johnb1959 on Ancestry’s website in 2011 and can be found online at https://www.ancestry.com/mediaui-viewer/tree/29407238/person/12174227396/media/012e5a64-0ca2-456d-ab5a-b32297e9ff9e?_phsrc=gat1705&_phstart=successSource.

Other sources include:

  • An article by Mrs. Wesley Hays published in an undated and unsourced column titled “Looking Back” from Fred Lockwood’s scrapbook. A very similar article to that of Hays was written by Forest M. “Pop” Hall and published in the November 29, 1921, issue of the Bloomington Evening World.  Both Hays and Hall included much information from Samuel Orchard’s biosketch included in Blanchard’s early history of Monroe County.
  • Samuel Orchard’s obit, December 8, 1891, p. 1.
  • Various federal population census records for Monroe County, Indiana.
  • Sanborn Fire Map

 

 

Civil War Roll of Honor—1883

uncle samBlog post by Randi Richardson

Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor those who served our country in the time of war.  It is a tradition that far exceeds the bounds of Monroe County stretching from America’s east coast to the west. It’s also a very old tradition.

On page one of the Bloomington Telephone published June 2, 1883, and available online at Hoosier State Chronicles, a free website, is a listing of Monroe County soldiers who either died in the service or since the war.  The list includes hundreds of names along with the regiment number and remarks such as place and cause of death.  Occasionally a death date is also included.

Unfortunately, the list is compiled in random order by regiment and not alphabetically.  However, if you have been searching for a Civil War veteran it may be worth your time to scan through this list carefully to determine if your ancestor is included.  A few examples are noted below.

George W. Whitaker, 82nd Reg’t, died at Bowling Green, Ky.

Elvin Farmer, Colored Reg’t, died at Memphis

William McDermott, 82nd Reg’t, died of wounds rec’d at Chickamauga

David P. Sutphin, 28th Ind., died of disease at home in Indianapolis

Francis Otwell, Jr., 27th Ind., died at Indianapolis July 27 ‘74

James W. Nichols, 38th Reg’t, died at Andersonville prison

A few years later a similar list was published in the Bloomington Telephone on May 8, 1922 (see p. 4).  There were many more dates of death in this news item than in the one noted above.  The latter list was viewed online at www.newspaperarchive.com, a paid website, but it should also be available on microfilm at the Monroe County Public Library.  The list took up the entire page but about a third of the page was not legible.

Arthur Day, Leading Bloomington Funeral Director, Died Saving the Life of His Wife

Blog post by Randi Richardson.

One minute Arthur Day and his wife, Mary, were at the northwest corner of Bloomington’s town square walking toward their home at 302 N. Walnut Street; seconds later Arthur lay mortally wounded in the street.  They had just finished a meal together at the Graham Hotel.  It was to be their last.

As they walked east across Walnut Street on Thursday evening, April 17, 1947, Arthur jerked Mary’s arm pulling her backward.  In this way, unbeknownst to her, he had placed himself between her and an oncoming car.  Mary didn’t see the 1937 Ford sedan driven by 22-year-old Howard Watson of Harrodsburg until Arthur was violently hurled against her knocking them both to the ground.

When Mary realized that Arthur was badly injured, she sat down in the middle of the street and raised his bleeding head to her lap.  As a former hospital superintendent, she immediately recognized his condition as grave.  He was still breathing and his eyes were open, but he was unconscious.

Watson, stopped immediately, leaped from his car, ran to the nearest phone and called for an ambulance and the police who arrived at the scene of the accident almost simultaneously with the arrival of a Day Funeral Home ambulance.   Two hours later, at 9:45 PM, Arthur breathed his last at the Bloomington Hospital without regaining consciousness.

dayfuneral
Arthur Day

After a thorough investigation, Dr. R. E. Lyon, the Monroe County coroner, determined that the accident was unavoidable, a finding shared by the police.  It was believed that the tragedy occurred when the stop-and-go light changed when the Days were in the middle of the street.  Watson did not see the couple readily because the car immediately in front of him turned leaving him unaware that anyone was crossing the street.

At the time of his death Arthur Day, age 66, had been a well-known and respected resident of Bloomington for the past 45 years.  He moved from Brown County to Bloomington in 1902 and was in the grocery business until 1913 when he joined a firm that operated both a furniture store and a funeral home business on the north side of the square.  Arthur bought out his partners and became the sole operator in 1924.

He was one of the best-known residents of Monroe County.  Nearly everyone knew the big, quiet man as a friend.  His pleasant disposition brought him much success in his profession.

In addition to his wife, Arthur was survived by two daughters, Mrs. Gayle Campbell and Mrs. Lucille Pearcy of Bloomington; one brother, Odus Day of Bloomington; and two sisters, Mrs. Nannie Lanum of Bloomington and Mrs. Elma McDaniel in Kansas; three grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

Source:  Picture and text abstracted from an obituary for Arthur Day published by the Bloomington World, April 18, 1947, pp. 1-2.